Rugby League: Wigan decide not to risk Smith for Leeds return

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The Independent Online
TONY SMITH has been ruled out of Wigan's revenge mission at Leeds on Friday. The Great Britain scrum-half, who broke a bone in his ankle in a pre-season friendly at Halifax, was earmarked for a return, but the Wigan coach, John Monie, is resigned to him being out.

"He had to be able to train with the side if he was going to play and our physio just wasn't happy with him," said Monie. "We have another two weeks before our next game after Leeds, so it's not a good risk."

Simon Haughton has also had a setback, turning his ankle in training after seeming to have overcome his hamstring injury. Rob Ball stands by to replace him on the bench at Headingley in an otherwise unchanged side as Wigan try to avenge their Silk Cut Challenge Cup defeat.

The match will be the first played under a new charter agreed between the League's Director of Referees, Greg McCallum, and Super League coaches covering the interpretation of rules, especially around the play-the-ball.

Gateshead Thunder will decide this week where to play their match against Wigan on 1 August, which they must move from their normal home at the Gateshead International Stadium because of a veterans' athletics meeting.

Tynecastle in Edinburgh and Sunderland's Stadium of Light are the venues under discussion for one of the new Super League club's plum fixtures. "It's unfortunate that we have to move it, but the booking for the athletics at the stadium was made two years ago," said the Thunder's chief executive, Shane Richardson. "What we now want to do is take the match to the place that will maximise its impact."

Tynecastle successfully staged a Super League match between London and Bradford last season, while the Sunderland manager, Peter Reid, has been one of Gateshead's high-profile supporters in the North-East. Of more immediate concern to the Thunder is the fact that their captain, Kerrod Walters, may miss the match at St Helens in 11 days' time because of his injured groin.

Nick Halafihi, who left St Helens' backroom staff earlier this month, has been appointed director of development at the Rugby League.

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